Sunday, November 18, 2012

Another check-up with Amy

On Thursday afternoon, I had another check-up with Amy at Austin Ear Clinic. Just like our other visits, this one was most helpful, and I left feeling a little better about how things are going.

When I got to the clinic, Amy had just finished up with a patient, a little boy about to turn 6. As I headed back to Amy's office, he was running around in the hallway while his mother was checking out.  He was very excited to show me his implant and hearing aid. So, I showed him my implant and my hearing aid, and he just about jumped for joy. Amy explained that he doesn't see many adults with a hearing aid and an implant. I talked with his mother just a little bit, too. She kept asking me how my implant sounded, and I think that she was hoping for a more awesome answer than, "I just got it three weeks ago, so I'm still learning how to use it."  I really wanted to wish her well as she and her son walk the road back to hearing.  Looking from my vantage point, the road they're on looks a little less scary, but they have no way of seeing where they're headed.

In my appointment, we did more of the same stuff: listening to quiet tones and loud tones to tweak my processor's programming.  When Amy loaded the new programs onto my processor, the sound was not dramatically different. I suppose that means that my hearing is stabilizing. That also means that the hardware is getting close to where it will stay longer-term, and now my brain needs to step up and learn how to listen. (After spending a few days getting used to the tweaks, I can tell now that voices sound deeper, like the entire population has got a bad cold, including me. It's a little unsettling.)

She added a new program to my processor.  In addition to "Everyday" and "Noise," I now have a "Focus" program, which, sad to say, does not do anything to improve mental focus. Focus allows me to concentrate on speech and sounds coming from the front of me while tuning out the noise from behind. One place where this could be helpful is in a restaurant, with William for instance. (We actually tried this out last night.  William thought I seemed to be keeping up with the conversation better than usual.)  Does anyone else want to take me out for practice?

Amy and I also talked about my longer-term progress, like when I can expect to hear on the telephone, for instance, and function without heavily relying on visual cues like lip-reading. Short answer is that everyone is different, and she didn't feel comfortable making any guesses, especially since I've had long-term hearing loss.  She was surprised that I was able to pick up on the "s" sound so quickly. Because the "s" and "sh" sound similar to me, she suggested that I practice listening to words that have those sounds at the end, rather than at the beginning.

There are support groups in Austin for cochlear implant recipients. Amy asked if I would be interested in going to a meeting. I honestly don't know if I would like that or not. I've never been a part of the Deaf community, but rather have considered myself to be hearing-impaired living in a hearing world.  The hearing world does not pay a lot of attention to hearing-impaired people, so my hearing loss is not something that I have much experience talking about or commiserating with others about.  So, I don't know what I would contribute to a support group or what I would take away.

1 comment:

  1. well you could at least share your awesome blog with the support group! maybe they would enjoy reading as much as we do :)